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Unfiltered Story #268070

, , | Unfiltered | September 22, 2022

I work as a keyholder at a clothing outlet. For those who don’t know what a keyholder is, we act as managers, though without the actual title or the full responsibility of a store or assistant manager. One of our employees is a young woman – for the sake of making reading this easy, I’ll call her “Kaia” – who’s a bit odd. She doesn’t talk much and when she does, she speaks in small sentences. She also does not respond to being yelled at. She will stare at you like she’s confused.

One day, Kaia comes into the office when I’m on my break. I ask her if she needs anything. She says, “I don’t like Ian”.

“Ian” is another keyholder. To me, this is weird because in the three years Kaia has been here, she never complained about anyone or caused any trouble. I ask her why she doesn’t like him. “He yells. A lot.” Obviously, that’s not very descriptive, but I get the point: she feels he’s yelling at her excessively. I tell her I’ll talk to him about it later. She just says “okay” and leaves.

When I find the time, and Ian, I ask if he’s had any trouble with any employee lately. Being vague was needless. He knew Kaia came to me and admits he has yelled at her a lot because – and I quote – “she acts retarded and doesn’t do anything she’s told”. I tell him that’s not an appropriate thing to say and ask what she hasn’t been doing, but he doesn’t answer. He keeps going on that she doesn’t listen, but doesn’t say what he told her to do that she didn’t obey or why he feels the need to yell at her at all. The discussion is going nowhere, so I decide I’ll report it to the store and assistant managers.

That wasn’t the end of it. Later, I caught Kaia about to go home early and clearly very upset. I took her back to the office and asked her what was wrong. She said Ian fired her. Keyholders don’t have that authority, and if we did, we couldn’t fire people on the spot unless they’re being fired for something illegal. She also stated he pulled her hair. So, within the same day, this escalated from verbal abuse to false termination and physical assault. Joy. I told Kaia she is not fired, to go back to work, and I’d deal with Ian. She did.

I called Ian to the office to confirm Kaia’s story. He was vehement she was lying, but in the same breath, referred to her as “retarded” and again complained she never listens. When I pointed out she was going home as he told her to before I stopped her, he said, “Because she never listens!” Which makes no sense. At that point, I felt it was clear he was, for whatever reason, harassing her. Though I don’t really have authority against another keyholder, I told him to just stay away from her for the day. “Fine, whatever” was his response to that.

When I escalated all of it to the store and assistant managers, I learned they were already aware of it. There had been previous complaints of Ian yelling excessively at Kaia, but since those complaints were from other employees instead of her – I suppose they were trying to stand up for her – the managers assumed she wasn’t having an issue and didn’t take it seriously. When I repeated Kaia’s story – that Ian falsely fired her and pulled her hair – they finally decided they had to intervene, though I’m unsure if it’s because they believed her story or because they didn’t want to hear of the matter anymore. In the end, Ian wasn’t fired, but he was moved to the receiving team, meaning he would almost never see Kaia, let alone work with her. I guess since everything was “he said, she said”, they had too little proof to really discipline him and assume he was harassing her.

I understand why employee disputes wouldn’t be high on a manager’s list of daily priorities, but I feel like if multiple employees are saying another employee is abusive, it’s worth putting aside the other tasks for a while to look into it.

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